UNICEF: Prioritize children to speed up Roma inclusion in Europe
3 April 2014 — On the eve of the third Roma summit in Brussels today, UNICEF
calls on European governments to firmly place children at the centre of Roma
Across Europe, progress has been made to realize the rights of Roma children.
Yet many Roma girls and boys still face extreme poverty, social exclusion and
discrimination, according to a new UNICEF summary report released today.
the time for European governments to transform their commitments into reality
for all Roma boys and girls,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional
Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent
States. She also highlighted this year’s 25th anniversary of the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child as an opportunity to assess what has been achieved
and the challenges that lie ahead.
commitments need to be translated into policies and funding that directly reach
Roma children so that they reach their full potential. A first priority should
be collecting disaggregated data on children. Better data enables better
policies and monitoring at local and central levels,” Ms. Poirier said.
Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia are among the
first countries to collect and make publicly available disaggregated data on
Roma children, the summary report noted.
“We applaud these bold initiatives and we urge other governments and partners
to follow these valuable examples,” she added.
UNICEF analyzed data collected in the three countries covered in the summary
report, Realizing the
rights of Roma Children and women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. The key areas highlighted for
immediate policy action are:
- End malnutrition: during the first
years of life, one in five Roma children in Bosnia and Herzegovina is too short
for his or her age, compared to less than
one in ten nationally.
- Secure access to quality inclusive health care services
and information for women and children: in all three countries, Roma children are
more likely to have low weight at birth than other children on average
- Expand supply of inclusive early child education and
learning for children: in Serbia, only 8 per cent of Roma children aged 3-4
years attend early childhood education, compared to 44 per cent of children
- Provide family support services and encourage equal
involvement of mothers and fathers in raising their children: in Serbia, Roma mothers and fathers with secondary or
higher education are up to twice more likely to engage with children than
parents with no education. When parents are better educated, they are more
involved in raising their children, which increases children’s survival, growth
- Improve the quality and inclusiveness of primary and
secondary education, particularly for Roma girls and women: in the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 35 per cent of Roma girls attend secondary
school, while nationally, 84 per cent of girls attend.
- Improve living standards and address the income poverty
of Roma households, in particular of Roma women:
all three countries, Roma households are less likely to have improved
sanitation or have a place for hand washing and more likely to use wood for
cooking compared to national averages.
UNICEF recommends such priority investments
for children and young people as necessary contributions to social cohesion and
sustainable development as enshrined in the ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.
Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to
translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on
reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all
more information about UNICEF and its work please visit www.unicef.org/ceecis
further information, please contact:
UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Communication Chief
Tel: +41 22 909 5429
Mobile: +41 79 431 1537
UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Communication Specialist
Tel: +41 22 909 5433
Mobile: +41 792 044482